Ebeye to outer islands travel banned

Marshall Islands Red Cross Society volunteers conducted community outreach on Ebeye to aid dengue prevention efforts in the wake of an outbreak of the virus.

GIFF JOHNSON

The Marshall Islands put domestic travel restrictions into force last week in the wake of an outbreak of dengue fever on Ebeye Island.

One dengue case was confirmed the first week of August, with 21 additional cases listed as “probable.” Health authorities confirmed the dengue as “Type 3.”

By early this week, the number of dengue cases on Ebeye had escalated to 125, as the spread of the virus picked up steam.

In 2011, a major outbreak hit the Marshall Islands with 1,603 people infected with dengue. This was the last time dengue has been identified in this western Pacific nation.

The Marshall Islands Cabinet declared a “state of health emergency” August 6, approving over $450,000 that can be used by the Ministry of Health and Human Services (MoHHS) to counteract the problem at Ebeye and throughout the RMI.

Secretary of Health Jack Niedenthal issued a domestic travel advisory Wednesday last week, restricting domestic travel from Ebeye to the outer atolls.

“In response to the State of Health Emergency because of the dengue fever outbreak, the MoHHS is making a considerable effort to protect the outer island communities from the introduction of dengue,” said Niedenthal in a memo to all ports of entry in the country as well as AMI, Marshall Islands Shipping Corporation, and MIMRA. “The aim is to halt dengue fever transmission to the outer islands because of the limited resources available in their local health centers. These health centers are not equipped in any way to manage severe dengue cases.”

The travel advisory directs that “all sea and air vessels must adhere to this travel advisory and must not board or permit any person from Ebeye to travel to the outer islands.”

Read more about this in the August 16, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.